CHINIOT, Nov 11: Trained teachers and the basic infrastructure are the prerequisites for raising the standard of education, but it seems the Punjab Education Department thinks otherwise and relies on change of medium of instruction and the uniform of students.

In a bid to bring the quality of education in government-run schools on a par with private English medium schools, the Punjab Government School Education Department converted thousands of its schools into English medium all over the province from April 2010.

The status of over 100 primary, elementary and high schools in the Chiniot district was also changed into English medium without upgrading facilities like the private sector schools.

The curriculum books have been changed, but the teaching staff has not been changed.

The education department is relying on old PTC and BA teachers instead of appointing trained English-language teachers for imparting quality education to the students of the upgraded schools.

The department claims that it has provided a six-day intensive training to these teachers for teaching the new curriculum, but the teaching in entirely different language needs a continuous professional development courses for teachers.

The uniform has been changed from “khaki shalwar qameez” to pants and shirt, but the students are made to sit on gunny bags they bring with them from their houses. Most of these schools have shortage of classrooms and students have to take lessons in the open.

A majority of these schools offer no facility of toilets and drinking water to their students.

Students of Government Boys English Medium Primary School, Jadeed No 1 Thatti Gharbi, Chiniot, said that they were still taking lessons in the open sky because of shortage of classrooms.

Teacher Shahzada Alamgir said the government would have to provide basic facilities in schools if it really wanted to provide quality education to students.

“Only change of uniform or books will not work, trained teachers and better facilities are prerequisite”, he said.

Punjab Teachers Union district president Ijaz Heral said that teachers were against imparting education in English.

He said education was being provided in regional languages in other provinces, but experiments were being made in Punjab much to the disadvantage of students.

He said the standard of education could be raised by improving infrastructure and not by changing books and uniforms.

EDO (Education) Mehr Ashraf Ali said that 100 schools were converted into English medium in Chiniot.

Confirming the absence of infrastructure, the EDO said the education department would provide missing facilities in English medium schools as soon as it got required funds.